The Making of an Abstract Sculpture

Thought I would just show how one of my abstract sculptures comes into being. In this particular piece, I was inspired by different curves, how they cross and intersect. It’s a recurrent theme that has been inspiring me for many of my work,s. It’s been carved in a  piece of Portland Basebed Stone, which has a beautiful fine grain. Perfect for a light polish.

Finished sculpture

Abstract Stone Sculpture by John Davey

” Cut ” Portland Stone


the creative process


I usually begin with a few rough sketches. Giving me different proportions and forms. As you can see there’s another idea on the page for reflecting pebbles. Will have to get back to that one.


Sketch of " Cut" Abstract Stone Sculpture.

Sketch of ” Cut ” Sculpture


The next stage is finding the right stone for the sculpture. I find it really helpful to have a stock of different sized stones to choose from. After selecting the appropriate stone I then draw out the profile by hand which gives me a reference to the final form.

Making of a Stone Abstract Sculpture

Sketching out of profile on Block of Portland Stone


Then I use stone grinders and spinners to rough out the profile. While I’m carving I can then refine the curves, finding the correct shape.

Roughing out stone sculpture

Carving The Profile

The next step is to find its three-dimensional form. I begin by drawing out chamfers which are progressively carved smaller and smaller. The width of each chamfer determines the finished shape.

Making of Stone Abstract Sculpture

Roughing out the main form.


The sculpture is then refined using files and different grades of abrasive papers. This is where I work out any small bumps or dips. The imperfections that are not seen by eye are really found out by my hands passing over the surface. I then work out the base, trying different stones, sizes, textures. Then drilling through each stone to insert stainless steel rods. These are fixed in place by using a strong stone epoxy glue.

Making of Stone Sculpture

. The Refined Shape with Base


So I hope you have enjoyed this little insight into how I work. I will be busy getting ready for the Dorset Art Weeks in a few months. Tutoring a few taster stone carving workshops for those that fancy getting creative and will be setting dates, details as we come closer. Time to get chipping!


Sail Sculpture in Stone

Showing my Stone Sculptures in the Coastal Gallery Lymington

So happy to have two of my stone sculptures on show at the Coastal Gallery in Lymington. ” Sail V ” and ” Tale “.

Coastal Gallery is a leading independent contemporary art gallery, situated in Lymington in the New Forest

Coastal Gallery, Lymington, is a touchstone for exceptional and unusual contemporary art and design. Working with both emerging and long-established artists, the gallery specialises in collecting modern and contemporary art with an intrinsic life-enhancing value. Coastal Gallery champions painters, sculptors and designers, based locally and in London, who display outstanding talent, creativity and technical expertise in their work.

The Coastal Gallery collection is curated by Stewart Mechem and Bev Saunders. Together, they bring years of experience working in the art, fashion and design worlds.With a keen eye for contemporary design and a thorough knowledge of what’s trending on the broader art and design market, Bev and Stewart have an instinct for sourcing the best range of artwork for each and every client. Coastal Gallery’s aim is to excite and inspire with an ever-changing selection of painting, sculpture, ceramics and jewellery.

” Sail V “

This sculpture is a variation on a series I, ‘ve been working on recently. Inspired by the dynamic and sculptural forms of sails. I find the fragility of the Portland Stone carved to its structural limit and the tension of the wind-blown sail work really well together. Also, the fact that Portland stone was formed in a marine environment makes a very relevant connection.


Abstract stone sculpture.” Tale “

Here I, ‘ve been playing with circular shapes, bisecting them to see the forms they create. Its been the first time I, ve carved Carrara Marble and what a beautiful stone it is. Many years ago I visited the quarries while travelling around Italy and they are stunning.

I m very happy to make commissioned work, working with the client to arrive at a suitable design, and price.

My Good Friend Joseph Smith

While living in France I was lucky enough to meet this great Artist Joseph Smith. A master of technique and creativity. He worked in many media,s, stone, wood, clay. This little painting was inspired by random splashes and shapes on watercolour paper.

One of his favourite techniques while having his breakfast was to place a piece of paper under his coffee cup and then use any stains or splashes as a catalyst for his imagination.

Using coffee, tea and watercolours to create some beautiful paintings. He also used red onions, boiling them to make a reddish wash. I guess there’s a lot of natural pigments which you can make yourself.

Watercolour by Joseph Smith

Minotaur I

In Joe,s own words.

“Through various series in my work I have attempted to put into more realistic proportion man’s relationship to nature, the animal kingdoms…and to himself.”

“I wish for my works to allow viewers to hopefully re-examine their own relative importance in relationship with the vast natural wonder that we are actually infinitesimal within..”

If you’d like to see more of his brilliant artwork please visit his website.

Portrait of the Artist By His Son

My Son Sean drew this portrait of me when he was ten, in 2006. I think he,s really captured the young Artist! Especially the Celtic Nose! It always amazes me how young children have that creative talent, no preconceptions or limitations.

Drawing of the artist by Son

Portrait of John by his Son Sean

Pablo Picasso famously said ” Every child is an Artist the problem is how to remain an Artist once we grow up.”

While I was living in France working as a stone mason to make ends meet. I would frequently take Sean with me to help on the building sites. As you can see from the following photo!

At first I thought he would slow me down, but in actual fact he was more meticulous. Jointing stones precisely, giving the concrete mixer a good clean and many other jobs which helped me along.

Son helping on Site

My Son Sean helping me!

This particular project was to carve and build two pillars for ” Le Chateau de la Commanderie” in a village called St Siffret in the Province.( A Knights Templar Castle.)

A lot of preparation was needed for the pillars to support the heavy iron gates which were installed later. Making one reinforced concrete foundation that  crossed from one pillar to the other, consolidating their rigidity.

I look back at this special time working alongside my son and realise how important it was.

They grow up so fast. 

My Son Weymouth

Sean, Weymouth 2017

Art Trophy

how to become an artist

Reminiscing over my Artistic past. Winning 1st Prize for art at the St John’s Youth Club in Belfast at the age of ten. Never been prouder and still have the trophy taking pride of place on my mantelpiece! It is a bit battered, a bit like myself! But it gave me the incentive to carry on.

O. k. some may say it was a fix as my parents and close family where Youth Leaders there! I would just like to clarify on this point that no bribery was involved. No washing dishes for Mum or washing Dads car. ( Actually he didn’t have one !) So you can see it was just natural talent!

Art Trophy

John Davey. St Johns Youth Club. First
Art Winner 1971

Today I must admit that every time I finish a sculpture, I feel I,ve won a prize. The chance to have the tools,materials and time to create. Also to be lucky enough to meet people who take enjoyment from my work and those that adopt them having them in their homes.

I still cherish my old trophy and at the time it was like winning Gold at the Olympics. I wonder how many of us have a prize from our childhood that really touched us? A medal for running, a Cup for Football, something really special that gave us recognition and the passion to continue.

Here’s to all the people who take the time to pass on their passion to future generations, Coaches, Youth Club Workers, Teachers, Parents, Friends. Bravo.


Two Sculptures Finished. Another Started.

After the mayhem of disorder these two sculptures pulled themselves together!

Following my series of Sail sculptures, this one is more angled, leaning back. Much more like a Windsurfing sail. Changing its dynamic. Remember sailing in Portland Harbour in a Force 7-8, leaning back into the wind, trying to read the surface of the water for the next gust. Frequently misjudging and being catapulted head over head unable to release the harness in time!

” Sail VII ” Portland and Savernake Stone.

This Sculpture ” Tale ” in Carrara Marble and Black Granite took a bit of carving. Learning how to cut and polish harder stones. Working through several grades of abrasives to get the final polish. Really pleased with the result. The form goes back to playing with circular curves, bisecting each other. I think its a bit like the shapes of Butterfly Wings but you may see other things?

” Tale ” Carrara Marble & Black Granite


Carving Stone Sculptures

Working on a few sculptures at the moment. Quite like the mayhem playing through various ideas, materials and forms. Watching them pull together. Just having the materials around me gives me inspiration for other projects. Dust everywhere! Carving Stone Sculptures.

Here’s a few pics of works in progress and the disorder that will hopefully result in some interesting pieces.


Some Abstract Paintings For a Change

These series of abstract paintings, explore a constantly recurring theme which I find fascinating. Playings with mathematical systems, geometric patterns, order and disorder; all the time setting boundaries and limitations within which these concepts function.

The initial idea often stems from observation of forms, patterns and structures in the natural and man-made world, reflecting the diversity with which we are surrounded.

Materials chosen have their own identity and will dictate the progression and outcome of the piece. What properties do they possess? Do the break, split, bent? Can they be cut and shaped, added to or taken away from?

By combining traits and characteristics within the material I construct reliefs using these ’chance’ findings, at the same time applying the rules of symmetry asymmetry, repetition, sequence, combining these with the key elements of art, colour, pattern, composition, space, form and texture.


Shaftsbury Group Exhibition

Only two days to go till the end of the Quartet Exhibition at the Shaftsbury Arts Centre! Showing the artwork of local talented Dorset Artists, Zara Mc Queen, David Marl, Kim Pragnell, John Davey. Come along before its to late! P.S. David Marl will be following this show with a solo exhibition of his beautiful paintings. Also worth a visit.

Sail Sculpture in Stone

Sail V


As a young Artist, I found myself with many limitations. Money based mainly, small workshops or none at all, no car, having to ask favours from friends to move materials.

All I wanted was a large piece of stone to carve. But with no means of transport or money to buy it, I found myself becoming the typical frustrated artist. With a big chip on my shoulder!

The following Sculpture was carved during my placement in the Common Ground DARSET Project. Working with rural primary schools carving sculptures inspired by the local landscapes. Half of the time carving my own artwork

. A lot of the schools were situated in river valleys and the flow of water has always fascinated me. Also working as a stone mason I carved many archways, this vertical sculpture has these elements placed in an alternative sequence, giving it this flowing motion.

Stone Totem Sculpture

“Flow” Portland Stone. 1988. Common Ground D.A.R.S.E.T. Project.

I began to find smaller stones and decided to compose them together to make larger pieces. When I look back at these previous sculptures I realise that the very thing I hated, these so-called limitations, pushed me in a very creative direction that still influences my artwork. Being able to buy and transport my sculptures without heavy lifting apparatus.

My love of Inca Art and Architecture has definitely been a subconscious influence in my sculpture, how massive stones have been carved to fit together with hardly any joints.

Inca Wall

Inca Wall

I now see the infinite possibilities within these constraints. Its enabled me to appreciate the creative process and to no longer feel hard done by!

“The Enemy of Art is the Abscence of Limitations” Orson Welles.

Hope you enjoy these images and see the potential that I once ignored.